COLUMBIA, S.C. (May 27, 2009) – As the 2009 hurricane season begins this week, employees at South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) are better prepared than ever, thanks to a recent company-wide hurricane drill.
The Hurricane Delta exercise simulated a strong category 3 hurricane coming ashore in the Charleston metro area. More than 36 departments ranging from electric and gas operations, to various IST groups, and about 160 employees participated in the exercise that lasted almost a week in early March.
During the drill, teams in the Charleston area had to use their back-up communication systems to simulate no land line or cell phone service and no two-way radio service.
As part of the exercise, the company set-up one of our key staging areas, which included the set up of satellite dishes and radio towers; establishing perimeter security; providing systems to assist with tracking utility crews; configuring material lay-down areas; and the activation of a number of other support functions.
“This is a plan we hope we never have to use,” said Stacy Shuler, emergency response coordinator for SCE&G. “However, if we do, we’re confident that our storm teams will be prepared.” Shuler noted that while many veteran SCE&G employees who experienced Hurricane Hugo are still with the company, for the March drill there were 19 first time storm coordinators, providing those individuals with critical experience in a learning environment.
“It’s important to not only have a plan in place, but have a practiced plan so everyone is confident in their role, where they will be, what they will be doing and how they will do it,” said Shuler.
In 1999, SCE&G enacted its highest emergency alert status – Storm Condition 1 – in preparation for Hurricane Floyd. In declaring this emergency status, SCE&G placed materials, equipment and personnel in key staging areas so they could begin restoration efforts immediately following the storm. The company also stepped up customer and employee communication efforts, and increased staffing at its customer service centers. If the Charleston customer service center had to be evacuated, SCE&G has access to a total of three geographically separate, customer service phone centers that can offer assistance for any other center on short notice.
More than 160,000 customers throughout SCE&G’s service territory lost electrical service in the aftermath of Floyd. However, because of its extensive storm response preparations, the company was able to restore power to all customers within four days.
As SCE&G continues its preparations for the current hurricane season, the company offers its customers the following safety tips:
- Stay alert to storm advisories and evacuate if told to do so.
- Map out your route using roads specified by local and/or state authorities.
- If the storm is imminent, turn off and unplug stereos, televisions, computers and other appliances.
- Have flashlights and fresh batteries on hand.
- After the storm, stay away from and do not touch downed power lines. Keep others away from downed lines as well. Contact SCE&G immediately at 1-888-333-4465.
- Do not touch tree limbs or other objects touching a power line. Never try to remove a tree limb or any object that is in contact with a power line. Contact SCE&G immediately.
- Do not open refrigerators/freezers during an outage unless absolutely necessary. Repeated openings cause cold air to escape and food to thaw more quickly.
- SCE&G Emergency Service Numbers: For emergencies such as downed power lines or power outages call: 1-888-333-4465.
For gas leaks: 1-800-815-0083
For any other customer concerns: 1-800-251-7234.
- To report outages by mobile access- www.sceg.com/mobile
- For information about storm safety, power outage information or a storm emergency kit checklist, please visit SCE&G’s Storm Center online at: www.sceg.com/storm
South Carolina Electric & Gas Company is a regulated public utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 652,000 customers in 26 counties in the central, southern and southwestern portions of South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 309,000 customers in 34 counties in the state. Information about SCE&G is available on the company’s web site at www.sceg.com.